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Friday 22 June 2018

Hartson issues a reality check for Gerrard

CHALLENGE: Steven Gerrard faces huge task in Scotland. Photo: Jeff Holmes/PA
CHALLENGE: Steven Gerrard faces huge task in Scotland. Photo: Jeff Holmes/PA

New boss Steven Gerrard is well into his refurbishment of Rangers, but John Hartson believes it would be "inconceivable" for them to beat Celtic to the Premiership title next season.

The Ibrox club confirmed the recruitment of 25-year-old centre-back Connor Goldson on a four-year-deal from Brighton on Wednesday.

He joins Croatian defender Nikola Katic, who signed a four-year contract on Tuesday, midfielder Scott Arfield, goalkeeper Allan McGregor, Jamie Murphy, whose loan switch from Brighton was made permanent, and Liverpool youngster Ovie Ejaria, who has been recruited on a year-long loan.

Hartson, who played for Celtic between 2001 and 2006, was speaking at the Royal Hospital for Children to publicise a £20,000 donation from his foundation's events to the Glasgow Children's Charity Hospital.

The former Wales striker, 43, noted that the seven-in-a-row title-winning Hoops completed an unprecedented second successive domestic treble last season under Brendan Rodgers, Gerrard's former boss at Liverpool.

And he said of his old rivals: "They are making a lot of signings and they will have to continue making signings.

"Stevie is a class act and he will certainly make an impact in that dressing room. But Rangers' biggest worry is getting above Aberdeen, never mind Celtic.

"It is inconceivable to finish above Celtic in terms of where they are on and off the pitch.

"They have had over £50million from the Champions League experiences in the last two years, they have assets, they have money in the bank, they are an incredible football team riding a crest of a wave and they have just achieved the double treble.

"There is a real feel-good factor around the place and every season ticket is already sold out, so it is inconceivable that they are going to beat Celtic for the title.

"I think realistically, their aim should be finishing above Aberdeen, Hibs, Hearts; that should be their target.

"I know the fans won't think that way, but they are nowhere near Celtic so they should be aiming to get above Aberdeen.

"Celtic will come back flying. Brendan is going to add to the team that he has got, so it will be really interesting to see where it goes."

While players continue to arrive at Ibrox, Rangers attacker Joe Dodoo has joined Blackpool on a season-long loan. The 22-year-old, who signed from Leicester in 2016, moves to the League One outfit after scoring five goals in 27 appearances for the Gers.

Thanks to the £20,000 cheque from the John Hartson Foundation, the Glasgow Children's Hospital Charity's Schiehallion Appeal has now gone through the £1million barrier.

Hartson said: "To be able to help the children and the charity in this way is satisfying and humbling. Once again, this highlights the generosity of the people who support my foundation."

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